Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Media Government Politics

FCC Chairman Tries For More Media Consolidation 182

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the playing-monopoly dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FCC chairman Kevin Martin wants to relax rules on how many media outlets one company can own in one market. Democratic commissioner Copps wants to rally the public to stop media consolidation. He says he's 'blowing a loud trumpet' for a 'call to battle' to stop the FCC from giving big media a generous Christmas present."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Chairman Tries For More Media Consolidation

Comments Filter:
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:19PM (#21565773) Journal
    Let's remember that Jesus loves large media conglomerates. Jesus despises a multiplicity of media providers in any given market. Jesus loathes a functioning marketplace, preferring monopolies that will supply money, trips, golf club membership and hookers to Senators and Representatives in exchange for screwing the average American. Jesus despises the average American. Jesus is all about the money, and that shows in His favorite country, the United States of America.
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:23PM (#21565799)
    Perhaps it's Sneaky Time to do this on Holiday Break (for Congress, anyway) so that he won't catch too much hell.

    It would make a nice present for Murdoch, and the other media gluttons.

    Where I live, we have a newspaper monopoly brought to you by Gannett and the quality of the newspaper plainly stinks, now that they've put all of the competition out of business.

    That pesky competition stuff seems all too familiar at the FCC these days. It makes one wonder what might happen if the FCC had the interests of the American consumer in mind, rather than that of the media and telco mega-corps.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Where I live, we have a newspaper monopoly brought to you by Gannett and the quality of the newspaper plainly stinks, now that they've put all of the competition out of business.

      And better still, when their circulation goes down because nobody wants to read the crappy newspapers, they get to blame it on the internet.
      • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:51PM (#21566059)
        Oh, now that Craigslist and others have eaten their classifieds, and online communities do better news, they're starting to pay attention.

        They do this by wrapping the Sunday Comics in tear-away ads, and other slimey things that their sales guys must drool over.

        They launched a city site, and have all sorts of 'business partners' to feed and link content. Seemingly astute, but state of the art 1998.

        Their website currently as a registration policy that makes the old WSJ and NYT premiums seem laughable by comparison.

        I think I like their old crabby-assed publisher better. At least he knew how to pay reporters and do investigative journalism. The reporters are all but gone, and there hasn't been an investigative piece since the takeover. Why ruffle advertiser feathers, after all?
    • Perhaps it's Sneaky Time to do this on Holiday Break (for Congress, anyway) so that he won't catch too much hell.

      Ah, you haven't been reading the news, the dems blocked bushie boy on his recess appointments by putting someone in the senate every two days as a profroma session. Bang in and out 30 seconds a senator (or a hookers) dream. [come to think of it, they are both the same thing]

      shrub was really pissed cause he couldn't get another Bolton in. http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/bush-blasts-senate-over-pro-forma-sessions-2007-12-03.html [thehill.com]

    • That pesky competition stuff seems all too familiar at the FCC these days. It makes one wonder what might happen if the FCC had the interests of the American consumer in mind, rather than that of the media and telco mega-corps.

      If the FCC really wanted competition on the airwaves they'd allow Pirate [wikipedia.org] and Micropower [wikipedia.org] broadcasters. But instead the FCC does what it can to shutdown them.

      Falcon

      • If the FCC really wanted competition on the airwaves they'd allow Pirate and Micropower broadcasters. But instead the FCC does what it can to shutdown them.

        Pirate radio stations are prima facia imposisble to allow. And competition does not mean anarchy. Aside from the fact that they would collide with one another, and thus interfer greatly, micropower stations make copyright law much harder to enforce.

        • Pirate radio stations are prima facia imposisble to allow.

          Only impossible from the big corporate media perspective. Competition takes advertising revenue from them.

          And competition does not mean anarchy.

          Not requiring licenses isn't anarchy.

          Aside from the fact that they would collide with one another, and thus interfer greatly

          That was true in 1934 when the FCC was created but with modern technology stations can broadcast at much closer frequencies allowing more stations in the same area.

          microp

  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dirtside (91468) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:25PM (#21565827) Journal
    A strong, independent media (meaning: lots of independent sources for news and commentary) is essential to the health of a democracy. (Or even a republic.) Many points of view allows the (cliché inbound!) market of ideas to determine what's best. When there's only a handful of humongous players in that market, they all tend to have an identical set of interests and will likely end up as an oligopoly, much to our detriment.

    Media consolidation is, overall, a Bad Thing.
    • I am not a fan of media consolidation. For that matter, I actively work promoting alternative media.

      That said, what is going on in the technology is a blurring of lines between different media. FCC rules that assume some sort of clear and magical distinction between newspaper, TV and radio are faced with a market where newspapers have a need to stream audio and video content to the public. TV shows need to be making print copies of their programs available and radio are compelled to push out more print an
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rick17JJ (744063)

      The Bill Moyers Journal on PBS had two recent shows about the problem of media consolidation. In case anyone is interested, here are the transcripts to those two episodes:

      Bill Moyers Journal Transcript for November 16, 2007 [pbs.org]
      Bill Moyers Journal Transcript for November 2, 2007 [pbs.org]

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:26PM (#21565833) Homepage Journal
    The US already has a media monopoly cartel [usfca.edu]:

    In 1983, there were 50 companies that owned nearly all of the major US media sources. Today, only five corporations, "The Big Five," absorb the lion's share of the 37,000 different media outlets (daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies) in the United States. According to Bagdikian, the number of media companies dropped drastically due to many recent mergers and acquisitions. In 1983, the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal involving the Gannett Company, a newspaper chain, which bought Combined Communications Corporation, whose assets included billboards, newspapers, and broadcast stations. Then, during the 1990s a small number of America's largest corporations purchased more public communications power than ever before. In 1996, Disney's acquisition of ABC/Capital Cities was a $19 billion deal -- 56 times larger than the 1983 deal. In 2001, AOL's acquisition of Time Warner dwarfed even this deal at $182 billion, ten times the price of the 1996 Disney deal and 537 times the price of the Gannett merger.

    [...]

    99.9% of the 1,468 daily newspapers in the United States are the only daily in their cities. As Bagdikian explains:

    That 99.9 percent of morning papers are monopolies in their own cities understates the problem. Owners exchange papers with each other or buy and sell papers so each can have as many newspapers as possible in a geographic cluster. This permits individual owners to have something close to a monopoly for daily printed advertising in that region and in many cases to use one regional newsroom to serve all their papers in that cluster.



    These media monopolies present our entire society through their filter of corporate priorities:

    (1) ensure that the parent company is never cast in a negative light, and (2) find ways to plant positive news items about the parent company. Bagdikian details several examples in which journalists were fired and stories killed simply because the subject was in some way injurious or potentially injurious to the parent company. For instance, a survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors found that 33% of all editors working for newspaper chains said they would not feel free to run a news story that was damaging to their parent firm.


    And of course that "info monoculture" dictates politics that can be rigged most easily by a single political party, so long as it is thoroughly corporatist. Which is why the US government is getting rid of the rules that protect a free market of consumers and diverse startups, in favor of corporate anarchy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Garrett Fox (970174)
      So, if the current practice of having a federal bureaucracy that dictates who can own what and what people are allowed to say, allows the current state of the media to exist, how great is it? Might there not be more freedom of competition, and more voices, if there weren't a federal agency charged with managing our ability to talk and write? There wasn't much push for government management of the media in early America (except maybe the Sedition Act) yet even with that era's primitive tech, there were a var
      • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 03, 2007 @08:12PM (#21566235) Homepage Journal
        Like I said, you're describing a corporate anarchy. It is precisely the deregulation that the story we're discussing documents that has allowed the media consolidation I just detailed.

        The early US had lots of media competition, but it had no corporations. Corporate personhood, which offered legal protections to corporations, wasn't invented until 1886 [wikipedia.org], when a railroad monopoly faked a legal ruling in the newspaper monopoly it owned, on which the entire corporate scam is based. Within a generation, monopoly corporations had so abused America that they were finally regulated a little with "antitrust" laws, but they've steadily crawled back to unprecedented power and consolidation.

        Early America also had no "truth in advertising" or other consumer protection, and frequent ripoffs and unchallenged political abuses. It was also a relatively small country (0.3% in 1776 as in 2007), though the ability to independently publish was very widespread. But as conditions for publishing improved, that power fell into increasingly monopolistic hands. As is the case with all power when the people don't organize to protect ourselves from it - which is exactly what we started America for.

        You're right about tech making the FCC's mission irrelevant, if noninterference is part of the tech. I impatiently await phased arrays freeing spectrum myself. Though we'll still need our government to prohibit unhealthy radiation emissions from telecom products, but that should be part of the FDA, the Health agency, or a product safety agency. But you're confusing the FCC's role in controlling content, which is already irrelevant with media client filter tech, widespread tagging activities and busybody ratings orgs, with the FCC's role in controlling the market itself. The media is a unique industry for control by government, because it is so integrated with our government structure that it's still referred to as the Fourth Estate [wikipedia.org], even though the first (clergy) is (officially) gone, the second and third merged. When spectrum management is unnecessary or minimized, the FCC should be replaced by a "Telecom and Media Agency" which oversees media, prioritizing market protections, consumer protections, primarily discouraging monopolies and cartels.

        A bottom line example: without decreasing government protection, this media cartel is threatening the Network Neutrality that makes the Internet the most accessible, diverse - and therefore essential - info source in our society. Markets don't protect themselves. We establish governments to protect ourselves from predators, like the corporations that control most of the media. When we beat them back with better regulation, we'll have a freer society and better media, through increased competition among all of them. Rather than the cozy relationship where the media and government mutually exploit each other to their mutual benefit, entirely at the public's expense.
        • by KlomDark (6370)
          Mod parent up, specifically for the fourth paragraph, which spells it all out to be understood by our mindset.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Garrett Fox (970174)
          Interesting. Would you agree with me that (1) where no scarcity of "voices" exists, as on the Net, there should be no restriction on how many channels one entity can own, how many people they can reach, or what they can say short of fraud, libel, death threats etc.? And/or that (2) to the extent that the FCC or its successor has the power to control ownership of media, it will try to use that power to control content and should be restrained from doing so?

          Where I'm most likely to disagree with you here is
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            Although I do agree with what you said strictly in (1), I don't quite agree with what I think you really mean. I don't think there should be any restriction on, say, how many websites, or its share of the audience (traffic by headcount) any one entity (like eg. MSN or AOL) can have. But I do think that if smaller competitors can demonstrate market conditions that force competition with them to be unfair in a way that consumers don't have equal opportunity to choose the smaller competitors instead (and grow
            • healthcare/insurance corps have produced a "libertarian" hoax that is precisely wrong.

              Neither healthcare nor health insurance were created by Libertarians in the US. The current health insurance industry was created by a Democrat, FDR. During WWII, because of wage and price control laws [time.com], employers couldn't pay employees more so to entice people to work in factories and other establishments the government allowed employers to pay for health insurance for the employees. And still today employer have an

              • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                I didn't say that health care or insurance was created by libertarians (or the Libertarian Party). I said the health care and insurance corps have produced a hoax that looks "libertarian", but is just a reversal of the actual condition.

                The condition is that insurance companies don't compete - they're a cartel, with their product mandated in many ways. The New Deal that offered capitalist employers the economic niche of offering healthcare, contrary to the socialist systems established by our global competit
                • I didn't say that health care or insurance was created by libertarians (or the Libertarian Party). I said the health care and insurance corps have produced a hoax that looks "libertarian", but is just a reversal of the actual condition.

                  Rereading the post of your's I replied to I have to admit I was wrong, you didn't say it was created by libertarians. Sorry for the mistake.

                  Individuals each paying their own health insurance is more expensive than the broader base of statistical risk and per-capita cost

                  • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                    That's the debate honesty I expect from "libertarians" these days: ask a question, then turn out the lights.

                    Though its no fun wading through your facile model of the world, for the benefit of readers who might be distracted, I'll point out that you are perfectly libertarian in your ruthless ideology while leaving the boundary between your opportunistic version of libertarianism and just anarchy. Which demands ignoring practically all of the world around you, in all its complexity, in favor of the top-down t
            • The reason for my comparison to health care was that I saw this pattern: "Industry X is substantially regulated at the federal level, and X isn't being done as well as it could be. So, the solution must be to tighten regulations." There's a cost to that even aside from the question of economic efficiency.

              Doesn't your reference to Google and the fact that they're supposedly getting into the telecom business (and possibly even alternative energy) suggest that it's possible for an "upstart" to get into the i
              • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                We're talking about competing with telcos in controlling backbone access. Google is failing to enter the competition, despite having $billions, lots of its own fiber, and a decade of tremendous success in the Internet business that is still open to competition (though good luck competing with Google now). That's why Net Neutrality is a primary policy goal for Google's lobbyists, but Google hasn't gotten much traction, despite the issue's surprising popularity with the public. It's not a question of "Washing
              • by Lockejaw (955650)

                Doesn't your reference to Google and the fact that they're supposedly getting into the telecom business (and possibly even alternative energy) suggest that it's possible for an "upstart" to get into the industry despite all hostility from existing firms?
                Google has lots of money and infrastructure already in place/available, so "upstart" is a bit extreme. If I were getting into the telecom business, I'd be an upstart.
          • So, I don't think the comparison between "taming the rampant corporations" and "stopping the British from burning our city" is fair.

            No less than Thomas Jefferson saw the risk of the Corporate Aristocracy [amazon.com]. Specifically Jefferson said "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

            Falcon

        • We establish governments to protect ourselves from predators, like the corporations that control most of the media. When we beat them back with better regulation, we'll have a freer society and better media, through increased competition among all of them.

          You don't create competition by regulating an industry, you create competition by making it easy for competition to form. If I wanted to I should be able to start my own radio station without a license therefore creating competition for the established

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Doc Ruby (173196)
            You're going to have to explain how the market is served by your buying a transmitter to drown out the signal of your incumbent competition, broadcasting their format to their old listeners, but with your own ads inserted.

            You make it easier for competition to form by protecting the market from domination by a cartel (among other cultivation). That requires regulation - proper regulation. We have living proof of how deregulation, except for regulations that enforce a billionaire's club barrier to entry, crea
            • You're going to have to explain how the market is served by your buying a transmitter to drown out the signal of your incumbent competition, broadcasting their format to their old listeners, but with your own ads inserted.

              Can you please tell me where I said ANYTHING about drowning out my competition? That's a good thing about courts, if I interfere with someone else they can sue me. However why would I even want to drown them out, by broadcasting on the same frequency nobody would be able to listen to

              • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                It's precisely because you didn't mention it that I brought it up. Without the FCC ensuring you didn't overpower a competing signal, you could do just that. And steal their listeners. If your signal were strong enough, you would certainly be heard while the competition would be just so much noise - which could also be removed by inverting their signal and mixing it into yours before broadcasting, until they were just a whisper.

                What laws do you think your lawyer would invoke if you sued them without the FCC?
                • by _Sharp'r_ (649297)
                  A quick google search finds this quote about a related book [fff.org]:

                  Citing Ronald Coase's path-breaking work, Walker argues that it would have been far better to have allowed broadcasters to stake their claims to frequencies and then to have protected their frequencies against interference through tort law, much as a homesteader would sue to stop trespass on his land. During the 1920s, such a common-law-based order in radio was emerging, with spectrum rights being traded and some court decisions recognizing a right

                  • by Doc Ruby (173196)
                    Well, that book review is by the FFF, which also wants the government to stay out of the education business.

                    I expect the FFF would also prefer that the police not arrest people invading your house for criminal trespass, but rather just civil liability for any damage. Or, even more likely, you should just shoot anyone you see on your property, including that annoying neighbor kid cutting across your lawn on his way to play basketball.

                    As I've delineated, the government should not prohibit content, especially
                • OK, now you've demonstrated you don't understand even the basics behind radio,

                  I've built radios, have you? And not by assembling a kit. The first radio I built I even wrapped bare wire around the tube from an empty paper roll. All the other pieces I used I scavenged. Years ago, when knowing Morse code was needed I wanted to get my amateur, shortwave, radio license. Back then you had to be able to build your own shortwave radio. Unfortunately I had difficulty with Morse code so I didn't get my licen

          • You don't create competition by regulating an industry, you create competition by making it easy for competition to form.

            Regulation and competition aren't necessarily opposites. In reality it all comes down to the nature of the regulation and what intended mission of the regulation is. If your regulation is to limit anti-competitive behaviour, ensure the prevention of dilution of free-speech and ensure that companies operate within the social structure of the country, then I can only see it as a good thing.
      • As one example, what if we found a way to make the radio spectrum freely available to all without mutual interference, so that as many people who wanted to broadcast, could? If it weren't for the scarcity of usable frequencies imposed by past-generation technology, would we need or want the FCC to be telling corporations how many stations they can own in an area. And would the FCC be able to impose censorship or (currently at bay) a "fairness doctrine" using the excuse that it can impose any restrictions it

    • And of course that "info monoculture" dictates politics that can be rigged most easily by a single political party, so long as it is thoroughly corporatist. Which is why the US government is getting rid of the rules that protect a free market of consumers and diverse startups, in favor of corporate anarchy.

      In the East they have official state news sources like Pravda or Xinhua, while in the West we have a vast network of ostensibly separate and independent news sources which are ultimately through various o
    • by Tancred (3904)

      99.9% of the 1,468 daily newspapers in the United States are the only daily in their cities.

      Hmm. Only one in a thousand? I live in Seattle and there's the Times and the Post-Intelligencer. That's 2. So either Seattle is unique and someone rounded up to 99.9% or that stat is bogus.

      Also, I've seen Michael Copps speak. He seems to have intelligence and integrity. Great combo.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Seattle is very much unusual in media independence, as you should know from living there. And of course 99.9% is rounded, because there's more than just 3 dailys with local competition. But it's not much of an exaggeration, especially in the places that usually vote Republican, as I know from visiting a lot of it (though of course local readers wouldn't know).

        Michael Kopps seems to be a decent choice to run the FCC when the current administration is over. Whether he gets it, or who instead, will be a good b
  • Funny that a few stories down we should have an example of one of Kevin Martin's ventures in the other direction. [slashdot.org] Then of course is one of my favorite quotes of his, "The public interest is not what any company wants." Not particularly eloquent, but succinct and true enough. I like to think the man's heart is pointing in the right direction. Anyone care to comment?
  • Diversity. (Score:4, Informative)

    by headkase (533448) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:34PM (#21565901)
    I just finished reading The Wisdom of Crowds [wikipedia.org]. Great book, highly recommended. Anyway in the context of group decisions the book postulates that one of the fundamental requirements to make good group decisions is diversity. Without it you end up in the "me too" situation where opinions cascade through the group simply because there are less building blocks to improve on. With less diversity there is less granularity to approaching a problem leading to situations where a groups decision doesn't fit the original problem as well as it could have.
    Right now the book is just a proposal - it will take much more time to empirically test the ideas put forth in it.
    • by jellie (949898)
      Abraham Lincoln appointed several of his political rivals to his Cabinet, and most historians agree that the diversity of opinions and perspectives helped him understand the situation better and control dissent. This was also the subject of Doris Kearns Goodwin's biographical book about Lincoln, Team of Rivals.
    • I don't see why this idea isn't more evident to people. It has its roots in biology, in life itself. Diversity is important in ecosystems, in gene pools, in immune systems. Its important in industry, in the market as well as within an individual company itself. Crop rotation. Stock portfolios. The video game industry. As any old wife will tell you don't put all your eggs in one basket. Why do people not see that all around them the more diverse something is the less chance it has of getting wiped out or cal
  • Is it opposite day already? I thought the FCC was supposed to regulate such things.
  • Let's be honest about the situation: no matter WHAT rules are eventually enacted, they will be challenged in court. Once it is in court, there is a significant chance that the entire newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule will simply be invalidated. Why? Because a very similar rule, the cable-broadcast cross-ownership rule, was tossed out in 2002 by the DC Circuit Court because it was arbitrary and capricious.

    Personally, I could care less if a local newspaper owns a radio or TV station; I care more

  • We should all be paying as close attention as these people.

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/68295/ [alternet.org]

    And be making as much noise.

  • There is a substantial body of evidence saying that mergers hurt : employees, customers, and stock holders. Only the executives normally benefit. because they become executives of a larger corporation.
  • they are against a merger between XM and Sirius because it might become too big a player, but they want more consolidation for terrestrial radio? How does one correspond with the other? Or am I mistaken somehow?
  • I've seen the few public sessions he's attended on this and it is just so clear that he is a total douchebag running his own personal agenda(supervised by big business of course). The democrats on committee are against it, the public is clearly against it and yet there he goes in a total rush to force more consolidation. It's very sad and frustrating to see someone so who has been paid off(either now or in the very near future from big media) sit there and lie to our faces. You can watch a summary and a gre

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

Working...